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Movie Time! Man or Muppet? It’s The Muppet Movie (1979) and The Muppets (2011)
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Movie Time! Man or Muppet? It’s The Muppet Movie (1979) and The Muppets (2011)

It’s time to play the music and light the lights as we examine two movies bookending the Muppet franchise.

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It’s Popzara’s Movie Time! Podcast!, where our own movie nerds Nathan Evans and Ethan Brehm take you on an unscripted journey yakking and chatting about some of their favorite movie moments and cinematic scenes, from past and present. All presented without snark and snobbery for your listening pleasure. Let’s begin!

On this special post-holiday episode we’ve got two appropriately cheerful and beloved classics vying for your precious time, each proving that behind every great puppet performance is an even greater Muppet.

The first is 1979’s The Muppet Movie, the first cinematic outing for Jim Henson’s beloved Muppet troupe, directed by James Frawley and featuring a bevy of unforgettable songs by Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher, including the Oscar-nominated (but criminally not Oscar-winning) classic “The Rainbow Connection”. It’s also chock-full of famous faces, including Bob Hope, Steve Martin, Milton Berle, Richard Pryor and even Mel Brooks as a brain-mushing Nazi. But it’s the Muppets themselves that steal the show, as it should be.

The second is 2011’s The Muppets, a sequel-ish to the original Muppet films directed by James Bobin (Flight of the Conchords) and written by star Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) that helped revitalize the franchise for a younger, more cynical generation without ever devolving into cynicism itself. While lighter on the celebrities, the star power of Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie and another soundtrack of memorable songs (including the Oscar-winning “Man or Muppet”) from Bret McKenzie (also Flight of the Conchords) proved once again that life’s a happy song when there’s someone by your side to sing along.

Our hosts go through each film, alternating why each is uniquely significant both cinematically and as viable entertainment, even in today’s media-drenched landscape. They also take listeners on a deep-dive into other Jim Henson productions definitely worth knowing about, make salient comparisons to the great Ray Harryhausen, and so much more. It’s hard to tell where man ends and Muppet begins.

A word of warning: our hosts make no effort to hide their bias or unbridled love for Jim Henson and all-things-Muppet, though it’s clear their adoration for Kermit and Company has less to do with nostalgia and more with something else… perhaps some inner call to the great possibility within each of us to do and become better, best articulated by a banjo-playing felt frog with ping pong eyeballs, no less. If that’s not real magic, what is?

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